Olé! Cinco de Mayo means more than margaritas and tacos! It's time to enjoy this festive celebration of Mexico's cultural heritage — which falls this year on a Thursday — with a culinary extravaganza filled with ONEHOPE Wine's top vintages paired with some authentic south-of-the-border fare. First, please note: When considering Cinco de Mayo food and wine pairings, be sure to remember that alcohol intensifies the heat of chilies (and chilies intensify the alcohol), so choose lower-alcohol wines; and wines with acidity that complement the complex flavors and vibrant spices of traditional Mexican cuisine. Wine also should be matched with the sauce, rather than protein. Typically, red wines work best with earthy chipotle, pasilla, adobo Chile sauces, or cheese, while white wines go with lime, citrus, tomatillo, and cilantro or herbal sauces. Enjoy!
1) Carne Asada Tacos
This dish has a bit of smokiness to it, so a ripe rich red like California Zinfandel works best because of its juicy vine-ripened berry flavor alongside hints of pepper, cedar spice, vanilla, dried herbs, and cocoa powder.
These thick, fried tortillas topped with salsa, shredded meat, chopped onion, and sometimes queso fresco, would go well with our Rose wine. These wines are aromatic bright vintages bursting with strawberries and hints of juniper, pine resin, and cinnamon spice.
These fried masa shells, heaped most often with potatoes and chorizo, are best with California Cabernet Sauvignon, rich with baked blackberry and deep cassis aromas and hints of sage leaves and paprika.
4) Chile Verde
Pair it with California Zinfandel. The taste of juicy vine-ripened berries and bouquet of pepper, cedar spice, vanilla, dried herbs, and cocoa powder will complement the green chilies in the stew.
5) Mole Poblano
The dark-berry fruit and gentle spice finish of California Zinfandel also works well with the prune-like dried chilies and gently charred flavors of this complex chocolate-chili sauce.
6) Chile Rellenos
Try it with the California Sauvignon Blanc, with an aroma of rich lilac and sunbaked straw and enticing flavors of fresh squeezed lime for a touch of minerality.
Get something like California Brut Sparkling Wine that highlights the freshness of the avocado and herbiness of the cilantro.
8) Enchiladas Rojas
This mellow, earthy red sauce matches up nicely with a silky, fruit-forward California Pinot Noir filled with cherries and strawberries and layered with fresh soil notes of earth and spice.
For a dish that’s heavy on red chilies, go with a similarly spicy vintage like California Sweet Red. It's rife with the bold flavors of black cherry and boysenberry jam and finishes with black pepper.
Don't forget the dessert! This traditional Mexican treat goes well with the 2008 Sonoma Coast Reserve Syrah, an earthy and soulful wine featuring delicate hints of white pepper and violet, along with fresh blueberry, dark cherry, and vanilla.
Finally, if you absolutely insist on having a margarita, try this wine-laced version:
Grande Vino Blanco Margarita
1 Bottle of 2014 Rutherford Estate Fumé Blanc
Equal parts sweet & sour
4 oz. Cointreau
2 oz. lemon simple syrup
2 oz. lime juice
2 limes sliced
2 lemons sliced ice
Combine all liquid ingredients and place in a blender with ice. Blend until desired consistency. Serve in a large rimmed, salted glass. Finish with a squeeze of lemon lime slices.